Wednesday, July 20, 2011

McCarthyist Initiative Tanks Again

The Knesset has resoundingly rejected two resolutions meant to set up investigative committees that would have looked into the conduct of human rights organizations and other left-wing groups. Back in February, these resolutions were withdrawn when it was clear that they would not pass. Now, when the Likud successfully passed the anti-boycott law, Avigdor Lieberman wanted to prove he was real right-winger in the government, so he brought back the issue of investigative committees.

Prime Minister Netanyahu voted against the resolution, as did many other Likud ministers and MKs. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin was also a vocal opponent, having also criticized the anti-boycott bill.

For some reason, many on the left saw the anti-boycott bill as the beginning of the end of Israeli democracy, and saw the invesigative committees as the next step towards fascism. The truth is that nothing has fundamentally changed. Israel is still a vibrant yet flawed democracy. We still have free speech - and even on the question of boycotts, we haven't seen yet how judges will interpret the law. Fortunately, it seems that the Supreme Court will address the issue even before the lower courts do, and even if it doesn't strike it down, it will probably instruct judges to implement the law in a way that balances freedom of speech with the economic rights of the targets of the boycott.

Ehud Barak has come up with a good idea, though I wish he would have thought of it sooner. He has proposed an amendment to the anti-boycott law, that would cut out the part about suing individuals, and would only keep the parts about government contracts and tax benefits. That is very sensible, and I hope it passes.

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